While the sloth of modernization in the country has certainly been lamented by a great many Bangladeshis, it has also left a more positive mark in some specific areas and ways. In particular, the drive to modernize has left untouched a good portion of the natural wilderness of the country, which means those looking to go trekking in Bangladesh can look forward to some superb challenges and experiences here.
The best place to go if you plan to go trekking in Bangladesh is undoubtedly to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a portion of land to the east of Chittagong City that are also commonly referred to as CHT. The Hill Tracts hold a wealth of Bangladeshi local treasures, from old Buddhist temples nestled in the mountainsides to ethnic groups and their villages to high mountains that climbers and trekkers can take on to challenge themselves. Anthropologically, culturally, and ecologically, this is a vital portion of the country, and a place where trekking shall yield a bountiful harvest of experiences.
The prime locations for trekking in the Hill Tracts would be the peaks in the region. Of these, two stand out immediately, vying as they do for the title of the highest peak of Bangladesh. That title has not been awarded to either yet, due to the lack of certified and uncontested measurements of the highest points of both peaks, as well as border issues with at least one of them (the Mowdok Mual, which is more likely the higher peak but whose boundary demarcation is being questioned). Either way, both of these places are definitely challenging, so it is best not to hazard them unless you have prior experience: Keokradong maxes out at around 960 metres or more, while Mowdok Mual’s estimated height is regularly posted as being over 1,050 metres. The two are just a bit over 20km away from each other, and the main stop to Keokradong is Boga Lake, a gorgeous lake at an elevated altitude that is known for its serenity and which has a few lodging houses nearby for trekkers.
There are more than a few practical notes to keep in mind if you do plan to go trekking in Bangladesh. First of all, you have to be aware that the CHT has had a fairly tumultuous past-and this past is not that ancient, having lasted well into the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st. The opening of the area for tourism happened only in the past few years, so there are a lot of military checkpoints remaining in the area. Most of these checkpoints will demand that you carry passports and other permits for travel, and it is best to have a local (preferably someone who has been here before) with you, or you may be in for a lengthy bit of questioning, especially as they are not used to seeing foreigners in CHT yet. Note too that most of these checkpoints prohibit people from passing through once 16:00hrs hits: you should go through them early in the day.
Another thing to note when trekking in Bangladesh is that the aid of an experienced guide shall be indispensable. Do not think this is a place where you can get around just by reading a map and asking people for directions. Some incidents of robbery have taken place in the area and some of the local ethnic groups are not crazy about the idea of having outsiders running about their territories. A good Bangladeshi guide should be capable of getting you through all of these obstacles.